Five essential factors to consider when you get your own professional photography space.
Being a professional photographer is no easy life, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun and rewarding. I often discuss ways to help yourself, your business, and your brand by appearing as professional as possible. One way you can help achieve this is by getting yourself a separate professional photography studio.
Of course, technically, you can survive as a photographer without one. Still, when done right, this is another aspect – like printed products, in-person meetings, and high-quality images – that can put you over the top and separate you from the rest of the competition.
So how can you find the right location for your studio? Today I’ll discuss five key factors to consider when looking to get a professional photography studio.
No one likes a lengthy, arduous commute. If you are a professional supporting a family or even simply with a significant other, this is even more of a truth. Do some homework and research online to find locations that are as close and convenient to you as possible.
After all, you could have the ideal studio, but if it’s a two-hour drive one way through heavy traffic every day is it worth it? As professional photographers, you understand all too well: time is money. So don’t waste yours on long commutes.
2. Heavy Traffic
So when it comes to commuting to work, run away as far and fast as you can from the word traffic, but when it comes to foot traffic around a specific location, fly! Millennium-Falcon-warp-speed style toward it. I think it can go without saying that you should never underestimate the power of exposure for your studio and therefore find a space that is buzzing with activity consistently – even if you have to pay a little extra for it.
Are any window shoppers out there? This a business practice as old as the business itself. Well, all see the method of making a beautiful window display/storefront work especially well for clothes shops, sweet shops, antique and craft shops – just about any business with something beautiful to display – as people gravitate to it like a moth to light. Well, hey, something visually stunning to display. Does that sound familiar to my professional photographer friends?
The fact is we all like to believe we have the skills and reputation to maintain the if you build it, they will come theory for our services in that we’re so good even if our studio is a little out of the way, they’ll go by.
This may be true once you’ve established a big name for yourself, but if you're just getting started remember the most important rule of marketing and branding a business: exposure, exposure, exposure!
Remember, spending money isn’t a bad business practice; it’s spending money on worthless, short-sighted expenses that are bad for business. Paying a little more for a good studio space is a valuable, long-term gain and investment that indeed is good business spending. :)
This is an extension of number two. Another theme I often stress as a way to take yourself and your business to the next level is through branding. Your studio (having one in itself), where it is located, and how you present it all feed into your brand about as much as your photographs and product line themselves.
In number two, we focused on a highly trafficked area, where I want to stress putting yourself in a nice, comfortable area that people will be happy to visit. Often this goes hand-and-hand with heavy traffic, but if a place doesn’t have too high of foot traffic but is in a nice area of a town or city, it could suffice.
In the end, putting your beautiful studio in a bad part of town in an attempt to save money will only hurt your brand as often it results in clients not being comfortable visiting your studio.
Conversely, putting your business in a nice, upscale part of town will, by association with the area, elevate its sense of style, elegance, and sophistication.
As the old real-estate adage goes, the three most important rules of property investment are "location, location, location." So find one that is well-trafficked but also accentuates the brand you want to establish.
4. Flexible Space
Make sure your location has flexible space. I use the word flexible intentionally. But, of course, first and foremost, please be sure the location has enough room to accommodate your immediate intentions.
Keep in mind that you need space to shoot, a space for computers and printers, and maybe a waiting space or place to relax between shoots/waiting for a previous shoot to finish, or for someone who came along who is not involved (this is especially important to consider if you photograph kids or pets; subjects that can’t drive themselves to a shoot).
However, I use the word flexible because, ideally, you’ll choose a space that will accommodate future expansion. Or, on the other side of the spectrum, it can be shared or split if you find yourself in a tight situation financially.
Moving a business is a confusing inconvenience for clients, especially the longer you’ve been established in one place, so be sure that once you plant your flag, you think out all options to ensure it doesn’t have to move.
5. View Potential Locations
Like any property investment, you should visit a few locations you have in mind before committing. So often, our minds and the voices of the sales persons can make a situation seem much different from reality.
For example, regarding heavy traffic, don’t just take a landlord’s word for it. Instead, spend a day or so in the location yourself to be sure it is as you expect. Also, be sure to pay close attention to the people who are frequently passing the location and ensure they are the clientele you are targeting or would like to.
Lastly, make sure the location is as convenient for you and others to find and get to as you believe. For example, is it easily noticeable from the street or tucked inside a strip mall? Is there convenient parking or public transit nearby?
Your professional photography studio is an essential aspect of your brand and being a professional. Not having one is like living with your parents and having a significant other.
Theoretically, it can work, but the longer it drags on, the more awkward it becomes. It’s OK for a little while at the beginning, but - sooner rather than later – it’s best for all involved to branch out on your own. Use this guideline to help you take that next step with your business and brand and make yourself even more professional than you already are.
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